"Spectacular performance of Modi government contributed to victory"
Demonstrating a remarkable recovery after the poor performance in the recent parliamentary elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged five of the seven seats in the Gujarat Assembly, the by-elections for which were held on September 10.
After a long interval when the BJP was taking beatings from the Congress, it was a day of celebrations on Monday when the counting of votes for the by-elections for the seven seats was taken up.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who failed to motivate the voters in the State in the parliamentary elections, similarly failed to impress the voters in other States wherever he campaigned in the Lok Sabha elections and even for the first time conceded a major urban centre to the Congress when the BJP lost the elections to the Junagadh Municipal Corporation.
Since the parliamentary elections, the Congress had also won a number of elections to the local co-operative societies which made the party buoyant in going to the polls in the by-elections.
State Congress president Siddhartha Patel held wrong selection of candidates in some seats responsible for the party's poor show, but promised to hold a review meeting of the party to analyse the causes for the setback.
Jubilant BJP leaders claimed that the failure of the second UPA government at the Centre to hold the price line and the “spectacular performance” of the Modi administration in the State contributed to the party's victory.
In a “victory rally” held at Dehgam soon after the results were declared, Mr. Modi lambasted the Congress leaders and asked the party to “stop defaming Gujarat” and respect the “pride of Gujarat.”
Mr. Modi, who stayed away from addressing election meetings, promised to visit all the five constituencies in the next couple of days where the BJP has registered victories.
With Monday's by-election results, the BJP tally in the 182-member Assembly has gone up to 121, three more than the seats it won in the December, 2007 Assembly elections, while the Congress strength has come down from 59 in 2007 to 55.
Three of the seats are held by the Nationalist Congress Party, while the JD(U) has one; there are two independents in the House.
Except for the Chotila seat, which fell vacant due to the death of Congress member Popat Jhijnjhariya, the by-elections were held following resignations by the sitting members after they were elected to the Lok Sabha.
In Sami-Harij, Bhavsinh Rathod, quit his Assembly seat to contest the Lok Sabha elections on the BJP ticket and lost, but won the same seat back in the by-elections, though for the BJP. He won the seat on the Congress ticket in the last elections.